Ursula von der Leyen would back last minute revocation of Article 50

Cheryl Sanders
July 13, 2019

The defense minister and compromise candidate faces an uphill battle, as several members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voiced disapproval when EU leaders made a decision to ditch the "lead candidate" nomination process - in only the second instance of trying to use it - when European leaders couldn't agree on any of the candidates put forward by the party groups.

"I still hope you remain", she said, warning the British authorities to "sort its side of things on Brexit".

Ursula von der Leyen has been highly critical of Beijing's record on human rights and personal freedom and has accused the Chinese regime of carrying out economic cyber-attacks in Western countries. "Von der Leyen declared her readiness to take lawmakers" ideas on board as different members of the parliament named their price.

In an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit in January, Von der Leyen said the bloc should apply the same "guidelines" to China as it does to Russian Federation and must not "underestimate itself" in terms of the influence it can have on Beijing.

She promised to focus on promoting the rule of law, digitalisation, competitiveness and the fight against climate change.

"It needs to be done that we get a mechanism to provide for transparent making arrangements for observing that the rule of law is upheld in all member states", she said.

"I think the backstop is of utmost importance and we absolutely know how crucial this nonexistent border is for you", she said in response to an Irish MEP. European Parliament groups are grilling the German candidate for European Commission president before they take a vote on her appointment next week.

Many parliamentarians are sceptical about confirming a candidate who did not campaign in May's European Union elections, and her bid hangs in the balance.

Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher has said that he will defend Ireland's corporate tax rate in Brussels, after a meeting with Ursula von der Leyen, the nominee for European Commission president.

She is likely to win the backing of major groups in the European Parliament, but the way she was proposed as a surprise candidate has come under criticism.

"We insist that the voters deserve a democratic and transparent process when it comes to the choice of Commission president".

"For that", she said, "we will have to be more ambitious with our climate goals for 2030".

While meeting with the free-market liberal group Renew Europe, she said it was a "brilliant idea" to hold a citizens dialogue about the future of Europe.

Three years after the shock referendum vote to quit the bloc, Brexit remains a highly divisive issue in the United Kingdom and von der Leyen said that while she still hoped Britain would stay, London must act to end the impasse. With some socialists fiercely opposing her election, the support of Green MEPs was considered key for her to reach the absolute majority she needs to be elected.

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